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Entertainment Weekly


Morgan Freeman is really angry Gene Hackman retired


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This week sees the release of the new movie 5 Flights Up, a comedy starring Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton as a long-married couple who dip into the treacherous and often absurd waters of New York City real estate. To celebrate the release of the film and as an excellent excuse to sit down with one of the greatest actors of all time, I hosted a SiriusXM Town Hall with Freeman that premieres this Friday, May 8, at 1 p.m. ET on Entertainment Weekly Radio SiriusXM 105. (It will also be repeating all weekend and will be available on SiriusXM On Demand.) 

The hour-long conversation, which also featured 5 Flights Up director Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon, Richard III), was full of excellent yarns about the making of the film, including Freeman’s thoughts on working with Keaton for the first time, the perils of shooting on the streets of New York, and the remarkable actors (Korey Jackson and Claire van der Boom) who play the younger versions of Freeman and Keaton in illuminating flashbacks. 

But Freeman is nothing if not an incredible raconteur, so the SiriusXM Town Hall also touched on the racial strife in Baltimore and the far corners of his incredible resumé, including tales about The Shawshank RedemptionDriving Miss Daisy, and Unforgiven. 

An audience question about the latter film inspired a cool tale about Gene Hackman, who starred in the 1992 Best Picture winner alongside Freeman and Clint Eastwood. In one famous scene, Hackman interrogates Freeman (it does not end well for Freeman), and the look of terror expressed on Freeman’s face is legendary. How was he able to conjure such intensity without using words? 

“The essence to me of acting is listening,” Freeman said. “Gene leaned into my ear and he said, and I’ll paraphrase this, ‘I’m gonna ask you some questions, and if your answers don’t match up with the answers that I’ve already got, I’m gonna hurt you.’ I believed him.” 

Freeman adored working with Hackman and is genuinely upset that he is no longer making movies. “He’s retired! Silly man,” Freeman said. “You take talent like that away from me! I’m not happy about that.” 

And just for kicks, Freeman opened up the SiriusXM Town Hall with a joke. Why? Well, why not? 

The Sirius XM Town Hall with Morgan Freeman premieres this Friday at 1 p.m. ET on EW Radio Sirius XM, channel 105. You can hear anytime on demand at siriusxm.com/ondemand.